LONG POND, Pa. (AP) — The NASCAR series make little difference to Kyle Busch. The hottest driver in the sport always finds a way to victory lane.
Busch made a triumphant return to the Truck Series, pulling away on the final laps Saturday to win at Pocono Raceway. His season debut mirrored his recent finishes in the Sprint Cup series, where he’s won three straight races and four of five. Oh yes, of course he’s on the pole for Sunday’s race.
“It’s been unreal,” he said. “Those are the words to put on it. It’s fun. You just try to enjoy it as much as you can.”
He’d had plenty to enjoy this season since his return from a broken right leg and left foot suffered in an Xfinity Series race the day before the Daytona 500. He missed 11 Cup races and was scratched from his scheduled Truck Series debut at Charlotte.
Busch haswon at least once race in all three of NASCAR’s national series for the 10th time in his career. The second-winningest driver in Truck Series history, Busch picked up career win No. 43. He won eight times in 2010 and seven times each in 2009 and 2014.
Busch had just enough fuel in an overtime finish to hold off fellow Cup driver Kevin Harvick. Tyler Reddick was third, followed by Tyler Reddick, Cameron Hayley and Austin Dillon.
Reddick took the series points lead from Matt Crafton. Crafton connected with Brad Keselowski and both drivers were knocked out of the race. Crafton returned and finished 28th.
Busch, who has won four straight NASCAR races, led 53 of 69 laps in the No. 51 Toyota.
“Any time I get in the vehicles, I want to get into victory lane,” Busch said.
It’s pretty much a done deal these days for Busch.
While Busch was always a contender to win, his bid for the checkered was helped by the early-race crash between Keselowski and Crafton.
Only six laps into the race, Crafton moved up the track to give Harvick room to pass. Keselowski had nowhere to go and ran into the rear of Crafton’s truck and both vehicles were badly damaged. Crafton and Keselowski, the 2012 Cup champion, exchanged words in the garage as the race roared on without them.
“That’s your Cup champion,” Crafton said. “That’s pretty much an idiot right there.”
Crafton even suggested that Keselowski wrecked him on purpose to give Reddick’s championship push a needed boost. Reddick drives for Keselowski.
Keselowski brushed off the criticism and said Crafton would see things differently after watching a replay.
“I have no interest in coming to the Truck Series and wrecking someone on purpose,” Keselowski said. “I want our team to go out and earn it.”
With two favorites eliminated, that opened the way for Busch and Harvick to race for the win. Dillon spun out promising driver Erik Jones on lap 59 to force the green-white checkered finish.
Busch’s recent winning streak appears to have turned the fans in his favor. Always a driver who embraced his bad boy image, Busch heard nothing but cheers when he took his traditional victory bow.
“It’s fun to change the mindset a little bit,” he said. “It seems, although we’re winning and winning a lot, there are fans who will cheer and hoot and holler.”